Zimbabwe: Union signs historic agreement on health and safety vs. COVID-19

The BWI-affiliated General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) signed an agreement with its government enforcing an occupational safety, health and environment regulation in the agriculture and timber sectors. 

Dubbed as the Statutory Instrument 197 of 2020, the agreement covers all workers (permanent, seasonal, fixed-term contract-based and casual) working in the agriculture and timbre industries. It aims to reduce the risk exposure of farm workers to COVID-19, especially in the tobacco tunnels systems. 

GAPWUZ said that the agreement was signed at a very crucial moment when all countries into the world are suffering from the socio-economic and political impacts caused by the pandemic, and at a time when Zimbabwe’s government is threatening the country’s trade union movement. The union said that the agreement has provided some measure of relief to workers, who it said were working in an industry with a collective bargaining agreement silent on the issue of occupational safety and health at workplaces.  

“It is a milestone achievement for workers. The Statutory Instrument on OSHE came at a time when there is no law on OSHE in the agriculture industry and amidst the absence of a national health and safety law in the country,” GAPWUZ General Secretary Golden Magwaza explained.  

GAPWUZ said that it is preparing to roll out awareness and educational activities throughout the country to educate farm workers on the new statutory instrument.